Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2009

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Hostage Killings Reflect Yemen's Tensions
  • Colombian Pastors Threatened by Paramilitary Group
  • U.S. Religious Freedom Commission Denied Visas to India
  • PBS Puts Limits on Religious Broadcasting

Hostage Killings Reflect Yemen's Tensions

Baptist Press reports that three aid workers in Yemen were killed and another six, including three children, are missing after they were kidnapped June 12 while on a picnic. Aid groups suspect a rebel group in an area where al-Qaida has a foothold is responsible. Worldwide Services Foundation, a Dutch aid group, said the workers had been serving with them at hospital in the north of Yemen largely devoted to prenatal and maternity care. Shepherds found the bodies of the three female aid workers on Monday. "The news of the killing of the three women will be a shock also for the local people, with whom a warm relationship exists that has been strengthened by the humanitarian efforts of so many years," Worldwide Services said.

Colombian Pastors Threatened by Paramilitary Group

Christian Today reports that Columbia's weak rule of law continues to affect pastors in the northern Córdoba region. Over the past six months, at least 10 pastors have been threatened by men claiming to represent a paramilitary organization in the region, insisting on collaboration. After refusing, one of the pastors said he was kidnapped and beaten, while another said a live grenade was thrown at his home one night. All of the pastors report being told that they are now considered "legitimate military targets” by the Black Eagles group, Christian Post reports. Complaints to the police have gone uninvestigated. “We are seriously concerned for the safety of church leaders living and working in the Cordoba region," said Stuart Windsor with Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

U.S. Religious Freedom Commission Denied Visas to India

The Christian Post reports that members of a U.S. government-backed watchdog have been thwarted by India's government in a recent attempt to visit the country. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) delegation had planned the June 12 trip months ago, but the day came and went without the necessary visas for the visit. "They knew we had tickets for June 12 and the visas are yet to be given, so the inference is obvious...they don’t want us to visit," one commission associate told The Times of India. Multiple Hindu leaders called the planned visit an "interference" with India's democracy. The country, which recently held elections, suffered mass violence against Christians in multiple states last August. Hindu extremists are believed to be responsible for many of those incidents.

PBS Puts Limits on Religious Broadcasting

Religion News Service reports that PBS officials voted Tuesday to not allow new religious programming at member stations. They will allow select PBS stations to continue broadcasting their current faith-based line-ups. PBS took the action after concerns were raised that religious programming could violate the organization's nonsectarian status. Only six of over 350 member stations broadcast religious programming, according to McNamara. At least three of these stations carry masses geared towards the elderly. The Archdiocese of Denver has been on-air with "Mass for Shut-Ins" for 53 years, 10 years on PBS. "I have to say that any time, whether it's weather or a malfunction, if Mass doesn't air, we have voice mailboxes full of the elderly calling us," said Jeannette DeMelo, spokeswoman for the archdiocese.